Talks of housing unaccompanied minors who cross the border has swan-dived in one Maryland town where anti-immigrant graffiti was found on the side of a proposed shelter facility. Discovered over the weekend at the Army Reserve facility in Westminster, Maryland, the misspelled graffiti which reads, “No Illeagles Here. No Undocumented Democrats,” partially demonstrates the raging schism over how to best deal with the 57,000 unaccompanied Central American children who fled violence and poverty.
Since October 2013, the number of unaccompanied Central America children apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has skyrocketed to twice as many kids from the previous year. About 75 percent of these children are from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
Federal law mandates that CBP must transfer children from non-contiguous countries into Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) facilities within 72 hours. Officials have been scrambling to find accommodations since the current HHS facilities only have enough beds for about 6,000 to 8,000 kids, not 57,000.
After Maryland officials learned of a federal proposal to use the Army Reserve facility to house children on Thursday, Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) threatened to use his position on the House Appropriations Committee to prevent requested emergency funding. A state delegate also groused that the Obama administration was “depositing” children in his district, claiming that they could pose public health concerns. The Washington Post reported that by Monday, HHS officials determined that the military facility was “not a viable option at this time.”
Public vitriol over housing these border children has manifested in nationwide protests in Murrieta, California; Vassar, Michigan; Hazleton, Pennsylvania; and League City, Texas. At present, federal officials have stopped flying some undocumented immigrants to facilities in southern California. And on Tuesday, anti-immigrant protesters in Oracle, Arizona plan to block the federal government from delivering more than three dozen Central American children to a boy’s ranch currently used for at-risk wards of the state. One protest organizer claimed to the conservative Breitbart News that the facility was near full, adding, “how are they going to handle the sewage?”
The graffiti is consistent with what House Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) previously claimed when he insisted that President Obama was using the border crisis to gain new Democratic voters.